Two-year degrees in education offer prospective teachers basic methods for managing classrooms and also resources for transfer to four-year degree programs. Though most states require teachers to obtain a four-year bachelor's degree for certification, two-year associate degrees in education may be a good option for some future teachers. Depending upon your chosen specialization, you may be able to find employment immediately following associate-degree completion. When choosing a two-year education program, select the degree that best suits your professional needs.

Early Childhood Education

Associate degrees in early childhood education prepare students for work in preschools, head-start programs, kindergartens and day-care centers. Students in these programs complete coursework in child development, educational methodologies for young children, children's literature and infant and toddler care. Most programs require completion of an internship or practicum within an early-childhood-educational setting. For example, Clarion University in Pennsylvania requires an experiential leadership course for students in the final semester of its Associate of Science in early-childhood-education program. Students completing associate degrees in early childhood education may find employment immediately following graduation, though graduates are encouraged to pursue a bachelor's degree for career advancement.

Elementary Education

Associate degrees in elementary education prepare students for transfer into bachelor's-degree programs. These degree programs include courses in educational theory, early- and later-elementary teaching methodologies, human growth and development and classroom management. After earning this degree, most students can complete a bachelor's degree within two additional years. Kansas City Community College features a two-plus-two program in which students count all associate-degree credit toward the first two years of the Bachelor of Science in elementary education program at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. In most states, associate-degree recipients may not gain employment as full-fledged teachers, but they may serve as teacher aides until they complete certification requirements.

Paraprofessional Education

Associate degrees in paraprofessional education prepare students for employment as teacher aides and resource teachers for children at all grade levels, including special education. However, most paraprofessional educational-degree programs are designed for prospective elementary-school teacher aides. These degrees require students to complete general-education courses and specialized courses in classroom management, children's literacy and educational technologies. Most associate-degree programs in paraprofessional education, such as one at Loraine County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, integrate practical components into classroom instruction but do not require graduates to complete a student-teaching semester. Graduates may begin work immediately following degree receipt.

Secondary Education

Associate degrees in secondary education prepare students for transfer into bachelor's-degree programs. Requirements for these degrees vary based upon the student's teaching discipline of interest. Students complete general and foundational education, along with teaching methodologies and courses from a chosen subject area that is taught in high schools. At Cowley College in Wichita, Kansas, for example, associate-degree students complete majors in fields such as English or history and minors in education. Associate-degree recipients in secondary-education fields must continue their schooling at the bachelor's-degree level and may not gain employment as teachers until they have earned state certification.

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